by Cliff Rold
With almost no buzz outside even amongst hardcore fight followers, this Tuesday in Osaka, Japan, two of the top fighters at 115 lbs. were slated to put their respective titles on the line against each other. Japan’s decision to join the IBF and WBO in 2013 has opened up new avenues for unification in the lower weight classes. For years, only WBC and WBA titles were recognized in Japan though exceptions had opened up in the last couple years if one of those belts could be unified with a WBO or IBF belt.
A little hiccup occurred at the weigh-in: Liborio Solis missed weight. That doesn’t mean Daiki Kameda won’t have a chance to leave with extra hardware.
Should he defeat Solis and add the WBA strap to his IBF title, Kameda will give Jr. Flyweight its first unified titlist since Vic Darchinyan moved to Bantamweight in 2010. While the presumed top man in class, Argentina’s Omar Narvaez, is likely to remain regarded as such, the fighters in play here deserve credit for making the fight (even with the weight issue). It’s easy to sit on belts and hope to carve out a living.
Unification is risk. Solis can still salvage with a win but his risk is now greater. He has nothing left to lose but the relevance his belt gave him.
Let’s go the report cards.
Title: None (WBA title on the line still for opponent)
Previous Titles: WBA Super Flyweight (2013, Lost title on scales)
Height: 5’4 ½
Weight: 117 ½ lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 116.1 lbs.
Hails from: Maracay, Venezuela
Record: 15-3-1, 7 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0 (3-0 including interim title fights)
Rankings: #4 (BoxingScene, TBRB, ESPN), #5 (BoxRec)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 1 (Kohei Kono MD12)
Title: IBF Super Flyweight (2013-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBA Flyweight (2010-11, 2 Defenses)
Weight: 115 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 118.85 lbs.
Hails from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 29-3, 18 KO
Rankings: #4 (BoxRec), #6 (ESPN), #10 (BoxingScene, TBRB, Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-3
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 6 (Daisuke Naito L12; Isaac Bustos KO3; Denkaosan Kaovitchit L12, UD12; Takefumi Sakata UD12; Tepparith Kokietgym L12; Rodrigo Guerrero UD12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Solis B+; Kameda B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Solis C+; Kameda B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Solis C+; Kameda B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Solis B; Kameda B
This is an interestingly matched fight between two fighters who have proven flawed but whose flaws may marry well. Solis is a constant stream of activity. It leaves him open to be hit but also makes him a constant problem to keep at bay. Solis doesn’t have appear to have huge power, but that could in part be because he sacrifices big shots for landing ones.
The shorter Solis has an exciting style. He likes to get inside, hooking, throwing uppercuts, keeping ever forward. In his bruising title win over Solis, he overcame an early knockdown to earn one of his own and held off a late rally from a Kono who seemed to have more in the tank down the stretch. Could this be a case where Solis needs to build a lead and hold on against Kameda? Will he have the stamina if he was draining hard to make weight in the days leading to the fight?
One never knows what they are going to get with the second born of Japan’s sibling Kameda trio (brothers Koki and Tomoki both currently hold belts at 118 and Tomoki will also be in action on this card). None of his three losses are bad. All came against tough, title level foes. The first gave Daiki a bad reputation that he’s worked hard to overcome.
His 2007 title opportunity at 112 against the veteran Naito came well before he was ready. Only 10-0, he was badly overmatched and resorted to copious fouling in one of the dirtiest displays in recent recall. Elbows and body slams, seemingly with approval from his father/trainer in the corner. It was so bad that, despite not being disqualified, Kameda and his father were suspended.
Kameda rebounded from a year to cool his heels to briefly hold a belt at 112 and, in a second chance at 115 after a lopsided loss to Kokietgym, finds himself in the title picture again. Can he stay there?
Solis offers the element that has been Kameda’s bane. Kameda likes to fight at a preferred pace. He often throws one at a time. Playing the marksman. In his loss to Kokietgym, and a close shave defense at 112 against Silvio Olteanu, the activity of the other man kept him discombobulated. Kameda is a little bigger than Solis, and has shown better single shot power. If he can catch the Venezuelan coming in, he could slow the pace or at least steal rounds with less output but superior single shots.
If Solis bridges the gap and keeps him from getting the space he wants, this could be a nail biter.
This fight could come down to who gets their way in setting the pace. There’s no doubting who has faced the superior foes. That’s Kameda and not by a little. He’s also the younger man and holds home court. Solis, a pro since 2000, has to bring it from jump and demand scores in his favor. He also needs to limit the amount of times he gets waffled walking in. If he can, the chance to continue a career-changing year is there. Getting decisions against the Kameda brothers in Japan hasn’t proven impossible but it can be tough if the fight is close. Solis can’t let it be.
That won’t entirely be up to him. Kameda isn’t Kono. Kono was an unlikely titleholder and Solis needed an extreme effort to defeat him. Kameda is another step up in class. His precise offense might not kill Solis’s activity but it should be enough to blunt it often enough to win the rounds he needs. The pick here is Kameda on a late stoppage or narrow decision to pick up a second belt at Jr. Bantamweight.
Report Card Picks 2013: 56-24
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]